10 tips to help your business reach net zero carbon

10 tips to help your business reach net zero carbon

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One

Switch to a green energy supplier

Why?

Switching to a green energy tariff sends a clear message to your energy supplier that there is a demand for clean, low carbon electricity, which drives investment in renewables and helps to decarbonise grid electricity. Not all green tariffs are equal though – make sure your supplier operates their own renewables or only purchases from renewable generators for maximum impact.

How?

1.
Find out when your current energy supply contract ends (shown on your energy bill).
2.
Get a quote from a new supplier such as: Good Energy, Ecotricity, Octopus Energy, Bulb or Green Energy UK
3.
Give notice to your old supplier that you intend to switch.
4.
Sign up with your new supplier.

Two

Focus on reducing all types of waste

Why?

Wasted energy, materials, food, and water contribute to climate change and cost you money. Did you know up to 46% of business energy consumption happens outside of normal working hours? Or that 2 million tonnes of edible food ends up in landfill each year – that’s enough for 1.3 billion meals.

How?

1.
Reduce your bills AND your carbon footprint by making sure all equipment is turned off overnight.
2.
Use the waste hierarchy “Reduce Reuse Recycle” to identify ways to eliminate wasted materials.
3.
Get your staff involved. From CEO to intern, your staff are best placed to spot ways to save energy or reduce waste. Set up a green team and reward suggestions that result in savings.

Three

Switch to electric vehicles

Why?

The sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2030. Although the upfront cost of an electric vehicle (EV) can be more than the equivalent petrol or diesel model, EVs have lower fuel cost per mile, lower maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts, lower road tax and are exempt from the London congestion charge. Plus company car drivers of EVs get the added benefit of reduced benefit-in-kind tax.

How?

For any vehicle that travels more than 5,000 business miles per year, it is worth buying or leasing an EV.

1.
Use the Carbon Trust’s Fleet Upgrade Tool to examine your options for upgrading to EVs.
2.
Worried about charging on the go? Find the nearest charging points using Zap-Map’s interactive map.
3.
See how much you could save by switching to EVs using the Go Ultra Low car tax calculator.

Four

Reduce business travel and enable home working to reduce staff commuting

Why?

Did you know UK carbon dioxide emissions from transport were almost 20% lower in 2020 than in 2019? The COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions forced us to find new ways to do business so online meetings are now the norm. Not only do they reduce the carbon footprint of your business, they also improve profitability by cutting travel expenses and increasing worker productivity,  as less of their time is spent travelling. Enabling remote working can reduce premises costs for your business and cuts travel costs for your staff.

How?

Face-to-face meetings and days in the office are still important for productivity, but it’s important to get the balance right.

1.
Talk to your staff. Find out their preferences for balancing remote working with on-site working.
2.
Develop a company policy on remote working and business travel to guide staff on what to expect.
3.
Invest in a reliable remote team working tool like Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Slack. Find the one(s) that work best for your team.

Five

Calculate your business carbon footprint. Use this to set targets for improvement

Why?

As the old saying goes, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Measuring your carbon footprint will tell you which business activities lead to the most carbon dioxide emissions and therefore where you should focus your attention. You can use this information to set ambitious but realistic targets for year-on-year improvement.

How?

1.
Use the SME Carbon Footprint Calculator from the Carbon Trust for a quick estimate of the carbon footprint of your business.
2.
To calculate a more detailed carbon footprint which includes the impact of your supply chain, download the free guide from the Carbon Trust.
3.
Contact Herts Growth Hub to find out what support services are available.

Six

Re-invest cost savings to further improve sustainability

Why?

Some carbon cutting measures save money in the long run but require an initial upfront investment. One way to free up some cash is to ring fence any savings that you have made from low or no-cost actions and use them to pay for more expensive measures. For example, if you manage to reduce your bills through turning off equipment overnight, consider ring-fencing these savings and reinvesting them next year in other actions to reduce carbon emissions like smart heating controls, LED lights or solar panels.

How?

1.
Find out how much you spent on energy, raw materials, waste disposal and water in the last year.
2.
Take some no-cost actions like switching off equipment after hours or reducing waste.
3.
Track your bills to measure your savings.
4.
Ring-fence these savings to create your own ‘green fund’. Invest in more carbon cutting actions.
5.
Repeat, investing as much as you can afford in each cycle. Don’t forget to count hidden savings like reduced maintenance costs in your calculations.

Seven

Install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on your roof

Why?

Solar PV panels generate clean, carbon free electricity which you can use onsite, store in a battery to use later, or sell back to the electricity grid. In future, you might even be able to sell energy to your neighbours via a peer-to-peer trading platform. With a correctly-sized and properly-installed system, your investment should pay for itself in 4-5 years.

How?

1.
If you own your business premises, ask several local companies to quote to install solar PV panels on your roof.
2.
Check if there are any grants available to help with the cost by contacting the Herts Growth Hub.
3.
Find out about the Smart Export Guarantee, which pays you for every kWh of electricity that you feed into the National Grid.

Eight

Tell your staff, customers and supply chain about your actions

Why?

Client Earth’s Climate Snapshot 2019 found that 70% think the climate emergency demands more urgent action. A PWC survey in 2017 found 65% of people want to work for a company with a strong social conscience. Concern about climate change is clearly growing, but many people don’t know what to do. Explaining what you are doing might even help you to attract new customers and staff too!

How?

1.
Add an environmental policy statement to your website that lists your main environmental impacts and what you are doing to minimise them.
2.
Keep the messages clear and simple.
3.
Avoid greenwashing. Be honest about what you’ve achieved already and acknowledge that some changes are difficult and will take time to realize.

Nine

Only buy from businesses that are taking action on climate change

Why?

Reducing the carbon footprint of your business is a great first step, but what about the hidden emissions that are locked up in your supply chain? Using your purchasing power to incentivise other businesses to reduce their own carbon footprint is one of the most powerful actions you can take to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.

How?

1.
Ask your suppliers what action they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint.
2.
If they are doing nothing, share this list with them and explain that you prefer to work only with suppliers that are taking action on climate change.
3.
If they continue to do nothing, switch to another supplier with better sustainability credentials and explain why you are making the switch.

Ten

Switch to financial service providers with strong policies on green investments

Why?

According to research by Make my Money Matter, choosing a green pension provider is up to 21 times more effective at reducing carbon emissions than any other individual action. Banks and pension providers lend the money you deposit to other organisations which could include fossil fuel companies. To avoid accidentally financing climate change, choose a bank and pension provider with strong ethical investment credentials.

How?

1.
Check whether your bank is investing in fossil fuels using the bank.green webtool. If it is, consider switching to an ethical bank.
2.
Tell your current pension provider to go green using this template prepared by the Make my Money Matter campaign.
3.
Sign the petition that calls on UK pension funds to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

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